The legal team of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Monday downplayed the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) dismissing their application for the live broadcast of the court’s hearing.
They said the ruling delivered on Monday would not constitute any setback to their petition challenging the victory of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that the court, earlier on Monday, dismissed applications for permission to allow media houses to broadcast the court’s proceedings live.
They had called on the court to allow the broadcast of the proceedings in the public’s interest, but the court ruled on Monday that there was no legal basis for it.
“There is no setback here. The court, in its wisdom decided that the subject of our application on the live streaming and open telecast did not, in any way, connected with the merit of our petition,” counsel for PDP and Atiku, Eyitayo Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, told journalists after Monday’s proceedings, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
Mr Jegede added, “The petition is separate; it is ongoing. The application did not succeed to have the televised version of the proceedings. As far as we are concerned, we are now set for hearing.
“Tomorrow, we will be here by God’s grace for pre-hearing report that will determine the progress of the petition and the time the petition will be heard and concluded.”
Asked whether he and his team still had confidence in the court, the senior lawyer simply said: “For us, we are prepared for hearing.”
Also, responding to another question about consolidating the different petitions pending in court, Mr Jegede said it was compelled by statute and that they had no objection to it.
Apart from Atiku’s petition, two other petitions are challenging the election of the president-elect, Mr Tinubu.
Tinubu, APC reject call for consolidation
One of the other petitions was filed by the Labour Party with its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, and the other by the All Peoples’ Movement (APM).
Last week, the Presidential Election Petition Court asked lawyers to the parties in the petitions to address it on the provisions of paragraph 50 of the Fourth Schedule of the Electoral Act, 2022, which allow the court to consolidate the petitions.
But the legal teams of Mr Tinubu and the APC objected to the call to consolidate the petitions during a hearing on APM’s case on Monday.
Mr Tinubu’s lawyer, Akin Olujinmi, appealed to the five-member panel of the court led by Haruna Tsammani not to consolidate the petitions.
Mr Olujinmi, a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), argued that consolidating the suit would undermine the “interest of justice.”
“The interest of justice in these petitions should be a restraint on the power of this court in granting a consolidation of these petitions,” he said during the pre-hearing session of the APM’s petition on Monday.
While Mr Olujinmi conceded that some of the petitioners’ prayers were similar, he said, “Some issues are not the same”.
“The counsel representing the petitioners and respondents are different, and the grounds of the petitions are different.
“It will be overreaching for the respondents if consolidation is granted. We most humbly urge my Lords not to grant consolidation,” Mr Olujinmi said.
Arguing in the same fashion, APC’s lawyer, Charles Uwensuyi-Edosomwan, said consolidating the petitions would be “unwieldy.”
“We are opposing the consolidation of the petitions. The interest of justice will not be served by a consolidation of all of these petitions,” Mr Uwensuyi-Edosomwan, a SAN, said.
He contended that “The trial of the petitions will be unwieldy, and the substance of the case will be lost.”
But INEC’s lawyer, Kemi Pinheiro, a SAN, neither supported nor objected to the call for consolidation of the petitions.
Similarly, APM’s lawyer, S A T Abubakar, did not object to consolidating the petitions.
The issue is expected to be resolved this week, as the cases are set to reach a crucial stage of calling witnesses.
Meanwhile, Mr Tinubu will be sworn in next Monday, while the hearing of the petitions challenging his election will continue in court. This may drag on till September.
The appeals that will likely arise from the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court may take up to December for the Supreme Court to resolve.
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